After spending $70+ hoo-hahs on my dinner at Jardiniere, I decided to continue my exorbitant spending and dine at the Slanted Door in the San Francisco's picturesque Ferry Building for lunch with my co-worker's last week. First, let me give you a little background on the Ferry Building. After being renovated and transformed into one of the city's architectural masterpieces, the Ferry Building is the ultimate gathering ground for a Bay Area gourmand. The Ferry Building restaurants alone merit the Passionate Eater Seal of Approval. In addition, the weekly farmer's market attracts throngs of eager crowds who congregate around the abundant vegetable stands. The fragrances from pollened blossoms, and voluptuous fruits are invigorating for any passerby, chef or non-chef.
Getting back to my lunch experience. . . I had towering expectations for the Slanted Door. Although I am not the type to fervently hop on any ole' bandwagon, I tend to trust restaurant hype from my friends, and I had heard good things about the Slanted Door.
To start, our table ordered the "friend-recommended" green papaya salad with tofu, rau ram and roasted peanuts. The salad was fresh and light, and absolutely wonderful. The tofu had absorbed all of the acidic tang from the fish sauce and citrus flavorings, and the roasted peanuts provided a delectable crunch.
Our order of spicy Monterey squid with pineapple, sweet red peppers, peron chilies and Thai basil was equally fabulous. The chef immaculately balanced the contrasting flavors of spicy, sweet, and salty with the unique and rubbery texture of the fresh sea squid. However, because I kept hearing the echoing voices of my Vietnamese family remaking on the hefty price tag of the dish, it was a little less pleasurable than it would have been otherwise.
Unfortunately, my experience quickly turned sour. I was disenchanted by the grilled chicken over rice noodles with imperial rolls, cucumber and mint. I mean, come on now. I order this stuff take-out from the Vietnamese restaurant next-door at least once a week, except there, I only pay $3.99 for it, and not $9.50. Now I am not one to "bag on my ethnic homie," but I was not impressed. A restaurant of Slanted Door's stature should not be making this dish without some sort of gourmet twist, unique ingredient addition, or ostentatious presentation.
I felt the same about the spicy Japanese eggplant with green onions and coconut milk. My Dad makes this stuff for under $5 bucks for the entire family of four, and you're telling me I paid what?!?
As I polished off my meal, I came to the wise conclusion, that when you set your expectations too high, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. My Slanted Door experience had been marred by the vehement praise of the many Slanted Door lovers that came before me. Ironically, my overall dining experience wasn't bad. I enjoyed the food, but it is just hard for me to get used to treating common foods that I grew up eating as "haute gourmet cuisine."